Pew Research Center Says: Mississippi First, Vermont/New Hampshire Last
According to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, there are many ways to define “religious.” But to give a sense of how the states stack up, they used polling data to rank them on four measures: the importance of religion in people’s lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God. Mississippi stands out on all four.
Mississippi ranks 1st in all four categories. Other Southern states also ranked high in the poll category of ‘importance’, with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina all scoring 70 percent or higher on the importance of religion in people’s lives. North Carolina was eighth with 69 percent; Georgia ninth with 68 percent, Kentucky 10th with 67 percent and Texas 11th with 67 percent.
Utah ranks 2nd in attendance, but is only 12th in the ‘importance’ category. Kansas/Nebraska tie for the lead in the Plain States; West Virginia in the Rust Belt; Idaho in the Far West.
When interviewed by the Washington Times, William F. Lawhead, Chairman of the Department of Religion at the University of Mississippi said: “This (ranking) is not too surprising. This is the Bible Belt. We are primarily made up of small towns – not many urban areas like Dallas and so on, where there’s a lot of people coming and going – so most of the people are homegrown.” The state is overwhelmingly Christian, he added, although an influx of Vietnamese immigrants who are involved in the state’s coastal fishing industry has brought in Buddhist adherents.
The poll was conducted by telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 35,556 adults living in the continental U.S. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. There were supplementary interviews with 547 people queried from an earlier survey of Muslim Americans, as well as another 500 interviews with residents who only had cell phones.
To review the entire poll, click here.